Suffolk County hit its first day in a decline of new hospitalizations from the novel coronavirus, one of the metrics it needs to meet before Long Island can begin to reopen for business, County Executive Steve Bellone said Wednesday.
Bellone said the number of new hospitalizations declined on May 11. The two-day old figures are the latest available due to a lag in the system. In order to meet that metric in its entirety, Suffolk will have to have under two hospitalizations per 100,000 residents over a three-day rolling average.
Another metric that must be reached is a 14-day decline in hospital deaths or fewer than five deaths during a three-day average. While Suffolk has not yet hired the number of tracers it needs, Long Island, as a region, is expected to meet the metric.
When it comes to overall hospitalizations, there was a slight increase, as of May 11, bringing the figure up to 585. “It’s a one-day thing, it’s 10, it’s not a huge number,” he said. Patients in the intensive care unit decreased by two bringing it to a total of 214.
Suffolk hospitals are at 70-percent capacity and 67 percent of the beds in the ICU are being used. Suffolk will have to meet this criterion for reopening — where at least 30 percent of the beds are available — even after elective procedures are once again being done.
There are now 37,305 people who have tested positive for COVID-19, up 243 from the day before.
Frontline Workers Testing
Overall, less frontline workers are testing positive for the COVID-19 antibodies than the general population, Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Wednesday.
Statewide, the general population is testing positive at 12.3 percent, and in New York City, where the pandemic hit the hardest, the general public is testing at 19.9 percent.
Downstate healthcare workers are testing positive at 12.2 percent and members of the NYPD are testing at 10.5 percent. Of the 3000 New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision workers tested, only 7.5 percent tested positive for antibodies. The test was given to 2750 state police, and only 3.1 percent were infected.
“You know what that means? PPE works. Gloves work. Hand sanitizer works,” Cuomo said.
The only groups to test higher than the general population — but still lower than average New York City residents — are downstate transit workers, 14.2 percent of which have tested positive for antibodies, and the FDNY firefighters and EMTs, who are testing at 17.1 percent.
The State Department of Health is now investigating 102 cases of children stricken with a COVID-related illness, a multi-system inflammatory disease, similar to Kawasaki disease or toxic-shock syndrome. Cuomo said that 60 percent of the children with these symptoms tested positive for COVID-19 and 40 percent tested positive for the antibodies. He also noted that only 14 percent of them tested positive for both.
The illness is serious with 71 percent of the cases ending up in the ICU; 19 percent led to intubations.
Fourteen other states, including California, Georgia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Ohio, as well as Washington D.C. and five European countries, have now reported cases as well.
During a virtual panel discussion hosted by the New York State Association of Counties on Wednesday morning, Bellone said businesses should be working on how they will protect employees and visitors to their businesses when the county gives them the greenlight to reopen. The use of personal protective equipment, how to maintain social distancing, and policies on sanitizing workspaces are among the items that must be addressed, he said.
The county executive said officials will issue more detailed guidance for businesses going forward.